Keller Spera and elementary students smile for the camera before a Friday football game.
Keller Spera and elementary students smile for the camera before a Friday football game.
DASD Staff Member

Football Friday Readers

On game day, Wildcat players visit Dallastown Elementary Schools to connect with kids through stories.
Junior Jack Mahoney fists bumps young fans after a Friday night game. (DASD Staff Members)

Before the stadium lights turn on, there’s a tradition. A tradition that has been going on for three years. 

The Football Friday Readers program was started because one of the coaches, Kyle Andrews, who is a teacher at York Township, took the seniors during their senior release to read in his kindergarten classroom. 

Andrews initially was inspired to start this reading program because his dad was a varsity football coach. He had always looked up to the players as a kid, so when he saw the chance to let them connect, he jumped for it. 

Ever since then, it has been a hit with the players.

“The last two years we put on a sign up form for every Friday of the season and it fills up fast,” head football coach and high school social studies teacher, Levi Murphy, said.

One of the players who signed up, Keller Spera, has many fond memories of his experience. 

“Seeing the kids’ faces on Friday nights walking to the tunnel really stuck with me, and being able to replicate the wonder and amazement in the kids’ eyes is something I think is wonderful,” Spera says.

The kids at the elementary schools look up to the players, and when they come to the games they see these guys playing a rough game. 

Getting to go face to face with the players helps the kids understand that you don’t have to have an aggressive personality to play football.

“While we play a barbaric and violent game, we have great kids and everyone should know that,” Murphy explains.

During their time together, they begin with a read aloud. After the read aloud, they pick one of two games, heads or tails and a roll to know game. 

The kids get to ask questions to get to know the player. Whether it be a pre-written question or a question one of the kids’ had.

“I was asked if I had a girlfriend, and when I replied yes the whole room erupted and it took three minutes for me and the teacher to settle everyone down,” Spera recalls.

Keller Spera reads to elementary students at the end of the school day. (DASD Staff Member)

According to Andrews, the kids look forward to seeing the players every week. Constantly asking when the next time they will get to see them.

The same goes for the players, they don’t go just for the kids, but also to see their previous elementary school teachers. The teachers often are happy to see their previous students as well, seeing how they have grown into wonderful young adults. 

Although the 10 week reading program came to a close with the end of the football season, there is a new group of kindergartners getting to meet a new group of seniors next year. Spera believes the connections with the kids are very important.

“A lot of them look up to us, we’re their celebrities and the people that they want to be like, taking the time to go to the kids and share some of our experience with them makes a world of difference,” states Spera.

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